I have just returned from a moving memorial service for the interment of Theodore Bates – 73 years after his death.
On June 4th, 1940, Theodore enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force. LAC Bates was stationed at No.1 Service Flying Training School where he received his Pilot’s Wings on November 21st, 1940. On December 13th, 1940 he tragically lost his life in an air accident in the vicinity of Lake Muskoka, while searching for a missing airman. For his service, LAC Bates received the War Medal 1939-45 and the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal.
I first learned of Mr. Bates story when I met with members of the group, Lost Airmen of Muskoka Project (LAMP). Their goal was to highlight the sacrifices made by the airmen who flew out f the Muskoka airport, and also those from Camp Borden who lost their lives in the region during training accidents. I am pleased to say that Guelph City Council made a financial contribution to support their cause. LAMP along with Mr. Bate’s brother, Tom Bates, never gave up hope of finding Theodore and his flightmate Flight Lieutenant Peter Campbell. And they succeeded with perserverence and the assistance of the Underwater Search and Recovery Unit (Orilla) of the Ontario Provincial Police.
LAC Bates was a native of Guelph and his brother and nephew remain long-time residents of our city. They chose the Woodlawn Memorial Park as the final resting place for LAC Bates. The family of F/Lt. Campbell have chosen to inter the remains of their uncle next to the airman he few with. Both graves will be marked with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone and their graves will be cared for in perpetuity.
We shall remember them.